In the wake of the Arab Spring that swept North Africa and the Middle East in late 2010, different processes of political change have been underway in the region with different results in the nature of each political system. Some transitioned to democracy while others to new forms of authoritarianism or underwent cosmetic reforms without any real effect on the nature of the system. The interest of this research is to examine transition to democracy. It focuses on Tunisia as a case where a democratic transition was initiated after toppling the Former President of Tunisia, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Tunisia is widely regarded as the closest to democratic transition as the outcome of its respective process is somewhat clear: a negotiated constitution was approved and permanent institutions were elected. Thereby, this research explores how the literature on democratic transition has dealt with consensus, as well as the dynamics and mechanisms of the consensus-building process in transitional countries. In doing so, the study shall also highlight the nature and impact of negotiating successful or failed pacts between key actors in Tunisia and the concessions that have brought about successful or failed consensus. As a final conclusion, the study reflects the mechanisms deduced from the literature review on the Tunisian case and attempts to develop a theoretical framework for consensus building in transitions. The research findings reveals that the Tunisian transition process that took place from 2011 to 2013 serves as a significant example that Arab transition politics does not have to be a zero-sum game and that a consensus led democratic transition is achievable.


Public Policy & Administration Department

Degree Name

MA in Public Policy

Graduation Date


Submission Date

March 2016

First Advisor

Hamzawy, Amr

Committee Member 1

Ali, Hamid

Committee Member 2

AbdRabou, Ahmed


96 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis


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Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Not necessary for this item


First and foremost, I thank God immensely for granting me the energy, persistence and will to accomplish my degree. I am deeply grateful to my thesis advisor and mentor Dr.Amr Hamzawy for his sincere support and mentoring not just during the thesis, but also during the past two years of the master program. His inspiration and attentive guidance since the beginning of my interest in the topic enabled me to hurdle various obstacles in the completion this research and enriched my progress as a student. I thankfully acknowledge the effort of my outstanding thesis readers, Dr.Hamid Ali and Dr.Ahmed AbdRabou for their willingness to serve on the committee. Their generous insights and comments have prompted and nurtured my intellectual maturity and contributed to the refinement of this research. I also thank the Yousef Jameel GAPP Fellowship for allowing me the chance to pursue my Master's degree. Thanks to Amira ElBeltagy, Iman Nabil and Mariez Wasfi for their support in every step of the way. I also deeply thank my dear friend Neama Ebaid for her continuous love and for bearing with me during this hard time. I could not have finished my thesis properly without her support. My warm gratitude goes to my friends Shimaa Magued and Israa Medhat for providing help and advice in critical times. Deep appreciation goes to my mother Magda and my father Tawfik whose emotional support throughout my master’s and life motivated me to finish this work. I would also like to express my appreciation to my mother-in-law Elham and my father-in-law El-Hussein for their infinite support, caring and prayers. I also thank my siblings: Omar, Ibrahim, Salah and Khadija for their willingness to help me at any time. Special thanks are extended to Ibrahim whose academic accomplishment inspired me to proceed on the long road of academia. I am most thankful for my best friend, husband and beloved AMR EL-HUSSEIN for being a source of love and joy in this long journey. His persistent confidence in me and continuing encouragement made the thesis journey possible and fruitful. He stood by me in times of distress and was very patient. I owe him more than he knows. Finally, deepest love goes to my little bundle of joy, my baby girl Saffiya.